Why American basketball players haven't taken their Olympic medals for half a century

It's no secret that some countries are leading in certain sports. So the best hockey players from Canada, runners from African countries, football players from England and Latin America, and of course the basque ball players from the USA. But even the strongest sometimes lose, or vice versa - the weakest, thanks to the will to win, defeat them, seemingly in a hopeless situation. This is rare, but it still happens, falling into the annals of world sports. And here is one of these stories ...

On September 9, 1972, at the Olympic Games in Munich, an event took place that will forever go down in the history of world sports. In the final match of the basketball tournament, the USSR men's national team played with the USA team, which did not miss gold in the entire history of the Olympics. Three seconds before the end of the match, the Americans took the lead 50:49. And then...

It was a historic match full of drama. At the very end of the game, the score was 49:48 in favor of the USSR national team. But as a result of two free throws, implemented by American Doug Collins, the score became 50:49 in favor of the US national team and there were 3 seconds left until the end of the game. The coach of the Soviet national team Vladimir Kondrashin asked for a time-out, but in the bustle of the referee's table, his request was ignored.

USSR national basketball team 1972

As soon as ours kicked in the ball after Collins' penalties, the game was stopped: the referees, after consulting, decided to give the USSR national team the time-out requested by Kondrashov, but ignored by them. After him, Soviet basketball players launched an unsuccessful attack.

The match time expired, and the Americans began to celebrate the victory vigorously, but after the protest of the Soviet coach, the head of the International Basketball Association, Englishman William Jones, ordered a three-second replay: the referee-timekeeper made a mistake, starting the clock directly on the throw-in, and not when the ball was touched by the basketball player receiving the first pass as the rules state (while the ball is in the air after being put into play, the time of play must be stopped). It would seem that 3 seconds can change.

Our team put the ball into play again and again failed to complete the attack. However, now the scoreboard has already broken, which for some reason showed that there were 50 seconds left until the end of the match. The electronics were repaired, and the USSR national team was given another three-second chance. The third attempt was successful: Ivan Edeshko gave a pass across the entire area to Alexander Belov, who, having accepted the pass, put the ball into the basket in a jump - 51:50! Moreover, in this episode, not only the skill of Soviet basketball players was manifested, but also the relaxation of the Americans who did not believe in the possibility of such a combination, two of whom were passively patronizing Belov.

USSR Olympic basketball team award ceremony 1972

The US national team refused to receive silver and filed an official protest against the decision of the judges, arguing that the FIBA ​​president had no right to interfere in the course of the match. However, the protest with three votes to two was rejected by a special commission of the International Basketball Federation. Moreover, the result of the vote, in general, was easily predicted in advance - based on the names of the persons assigned to it. It was quite obvious that in the spirit of the Cold War between the West and the East that was then raging, the representatives of Italy and Puerto Rico would certainly vote for the Americans, and the representatives of Hungary, Poland and Cuba would defend the position of the USSR.

As a result, Soviet basketball players received gold a day after the match - in a half-empty handball hall. The "silver" step of the pedestal was empty. The players of the US national team held a secret ballot with the team and decided not to go to the awards ceremony and refuse to accept the silver medals.

Silver medals of Americans are still kept in a safe - in the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, and the captain of that American team, Kenny Davis, indicated in his will that neither his wife nor children after his death would dare to receive the silver of the Munich Olympics. The Americans did not admit that defeat.